The Echo Boom Generation

"The Echo Boom generation - also known as "Millenials" and "Generation Y"- accounts for 71 million people born in the US between 1979 and 2002. Likely to be one of the largest generations the US has ever had, this group is huge, rich and an economic powerhouse for the tableware industry. Its power is formidable as the leading edge of this group is entering the engagement period.

24% of today's brides are part of the Echo Boom generation. They are the driving force behind popular culture and much of the popular culture has to do with weddings! Witness the Broadway hit, 'Mama Mia' or 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' at the movie box office. They don't remember a 45 record or a flip side. Grace Kelly and Elvis Presley are familiar names, but they have always been dead. They don't know about renting phones from AT&T.   Everything is hyper-speed in their world with ten-second ads. PEOPLE magazine is considered a 'long read!'

This is the generation that has grown up with computers, banking with ATMs and conducting research on line. They've always had the option of a lot of TV channels. Invitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood are just other ways to become parents. They also grew up in a world where sex can be dangerous, so monogamy and marriage are very attractive to them. The Echo Boom generation is turning out to be conventional, often with neo-conservative attitudes and they are more cautious than their Baby Boomer parents.  

They embrace traditional values. For the first time in decades teenage pregnancies and substance abuse is declining. This is the best-educated, best-behaved generation, likely to follow the rules. Test scores are up. Both sexes grew up playing soccer. They are constantly connected, 24/7 with cell phones, instant messaging, text messaging; sometimes with six messages up at once. This is also the most multi cultural generation ever. One in five has at least one immigrant parent and they're more likely to have friends of a different race.  

They view 'Home as Hive' - as command central and as a safe setting, abuzz with activity and engagement; not as an escape from the world, cocoon or retreat.

62% of the Echo Boomers lived together before the wedding. After the big day they will live primarily in a house although apartments and townhouses are part of the mix - and 65% aspire for a professional kitchen. They plan to entertain their wide circle of friends and families with frequency. It's not surprising these brides and grooms represent a most fertile ground for tabletop products. They embrace the traditions of the bridal registry in a new way with six out of ten registering for traditional five-piece place settings, which represents 60% of the market. They are cross-shoppers and always have been, registering with department stores, mass chains and specialty retailers.  

Engagements are predicted to increase by 14% in the next four years and 30% in the next 15 years. One half of all gift dollars go to gifts and the other is cash. $1000. is being spent on shower gifts; $3800. on wedding gifts. 42% said they would use a portion of the cash they received to go back and complete their registries.   Many will take advantage of completion discounts.

(above comments presented in April 2003 by Nina Lawrence, Publisher Conde Nast Bridal Group during the New York Spring Tabletop Market at Forty One Madison)